KFC is taking on the bizarre and potentially ethically questionable, but growing, practice of marketers using virtual influencers.
You know — those CGI-created personalities like “Lil Miquela” and “Shudu,” which (not “who”) have attracted large Instagram followings in order to be paid to promote brands like Chanel and Fenty Beauty by Rihanna.
Taking the absurdity to a slightly new level, the QSR and Wieden + Kennedy have created a “Virtual Colonel Influencer” — a virtual 3-D model image modified to look like a hip version of deceased Kentucky Fried Chicken founder and immortal brand ambassador Colonel Harlan Sanders.
The Sanders avatar has taken over KFC’s Instagram account. Now through April 22, ”he” will be posting tacky selfies documenting his fabulous fake life — and trading on the true story of the real Colonel’s eclectic, entrepreneurial life — with the claimed mission of trying to inspire others to achieve.
Just like the unreal thing, this branded spoof virtual influencer is soliciting partner brands, and has a media kit for that purpose.
The kit (partially shown above) boasts about the virtual personality’s #SecretRecipeforSuccess: “a unique blend of knowledge, positivity, and mindfulness.”
His “talents and services” include “innovation, lifestyle inspiration, disruptive business deals, inspirational collabs, product photo shoots, and authentic Gen-Z engagement.”
The kit also names some real partner brands already on board: Dr Pepper, TurboTax and Old Spice.
Unfortunately, for all of the illusion of control that might come with creating CGI spokesthings, legal and marketing experts warn that marketers must still deal with FTC rules, intellectual property protection and even morals clauses.